Canning is almost a lost skill. In recent years, as people have started to look into being more self-sustaining or homesteading, canning has become much more popular again. If you are looking into canning, you might not know where to begin. Here are some tips to get you started.
10 Tips for Successful Home Canning
Tip #1 - Make sure the food you are canning is in its peak ripeness. Canning does not help ripen fruit or vegetables, only preserves them in the state they are in. For the best finished product, start with fresh and ripe.
Tip #2 - Examine the jars you will be using; even if they are brand new. A small crack can lead to bacteria spoiling your batch and can cause dangerous breakage of the glass when the temperature goes up in the water. I suggest Ball Canning Jars.
Tip #3 - Follow recipes exactly and try not to deviate from them until you get the hang of canning. Canning is a very scientific process and adding too many acids or bases can offset it enough to make the final product unstable for storage and render an unsafe food product.
Tip #4 - Make sure you use glass jars that are made for canning. These special jars are made for the high heat required to seal the jars and make them safe for long term storage. Using other jars can be dangerous because not only can they break on you, but they can crack and you may not see it and the crack allows harmful bacteria into your food.
Tip #5 - Make sure your water is vigorously boiling. It needs to be hot enough to seal lids, but also kill bacteria.
Tip #6 - If you will be canning something that may brown when exposed to air, such as apples, you can stop that browning process with some ascorbic acid. This is sometimes available in the canning supplies section of your favorite store, but also from many health food stores in the bulk section. It is sometimes called Vitamin C powder.
Tip #7 - Make sure you are using the right size jar. Using one that is too big can result in an unsafe final product. You have to also consider what can be used up in a reasonable amount of time when opened. You probably won’t use up a huge jar of jam or jelly, for instance.
Tip #8 - Keep the level of water in your pot to at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. You can just boil some water in a kettle to add water as needed when they are boiling.
Tip #9 - Do not fill your jars too full. The general rule is to fill, leaving about 1- 1 ½ inches from the top. You don’t want to leave too much space, but you also need this space for expansion of the food (headroom) when it heats up during the canning process.
Tip #10 - Look into the different methods of home canning. Make sure you are using the right one based on what product you are trying to can as some products require different levels of heat in order to make them safe for shelf storage. For instance, meat needs a much higher temperature than tomatoes would.
If you are new to canning I suggest purchasing the Ball Blue Book - Guide to Preserving. This is the perfect book when you are learning to can, for more information click Ball Canning. It is a step by step guide and one that I would highly recommend to anyone who is starting out.